Norwegian has quietly been poaching dozens of Ryanair pilots as Irish airline faces flight cancellation turbulence

Rebecca Smith
Norwegian is also on the hunt for more pilots to bolster its ranks
Norwegian is also on the hunt for more pilots to bolster its ranks (Source: Norwegian)

Low-cost airline Norwegian has poached a chunk of pilots from the Irish airline since the start of the year, it emerged today.

It comes amid the news that Ryanair has announced a slew of flight cancellations over the coming six weeks after messing up the planning of pilot holidays.

The airline, which has been bolstering its transatlantic charge this year, said it had recruited 400 pilots since the start of the year, and 140 of those have come from rival Ryanair.

Read more: Here are the London flights affected by Ryanair messing up pilot holidays

A Norwegian spokesperson said:

We can confirm that 140 pilots have joined us from Ryanair this year. Pilot recruitment is also underway for more pilots for our new Dublin base opening later this year.

As an ambitious, growing airline with a huge aircraft order, Norwegian looks forward to welcoming many new pilots in the future on a journey that will offer exciting, global possibilities.

Ryanair has said the flight cancellations have been made in an effort to bolster its system-wide punctuality, noting a staff shortage from a backlog of staff leave, while also blaming weather disruptions and air traffic control capacity delays.

Shares in the airline were down three per cent in morning trading, but recovered slightly and were down 2.57 per cent by the early afternoon.

Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said in a weekend statement: "We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we're working hard to fix that."

So far, the Irish airline has listed cancellations up to and including Wednesday, saying it will cancel 40-50 flights a day for six weeks, which could affect up to nearly 400,000 passengers across the board.

The short notice given has riled many passengers though, with aviation minister Lord Callanan saying: "We expect all airlines to fulfil their obligations to their customers and do everything possible to notify them well in advance of any disruption to their journey."

He added that airlines must ensure "customers are fully compensated" in the event of any disruption or cancellation.

Read more: Ryanair cancels up to 50 flights per day to clear staff holiday “backlog”

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